Bozeman has been in a constant battle to try to find a way to create “affordable housing” for the past 20 years or more with little success.

Restrictive Housing

Let’s be clear. What we’re talking about here is restrictive housing with income restrictions, size restrictions and construction restrictions.

Don’t think for a minute you’re going to get granite countertops or plush carpet in your affordable home.

If you meet the Bozeman city affordable requirements “maybe” we’ll allow you to live there.

City vs. County Affordability

The best example I can think of when it comes to affordable housing is mobile homes. So why isn’t that Bozeman's easy answer to this so-called complex question?

The problem is Bozeman city restrictions.

To build a mobile home park in Bozeman you’d need 24-foot-wide streets, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, streetlights, power, water and sewer.

These costs are simply unprofitable for any developer to even consider a mobile home park.

However, the county doesn’t have all these requirements. You could have blacktop streets without gutters, sidewalks, or curbs.

Water could be from a well or wells for the project and electricity and cable could be made accessible at a reasonable cost in many areas.

Certainly cheaper than streets, sidewalks, and gutters.

While the county will have some restrictions, they pale in comparison to what the city requires.

Some Final Thoughts

When we talk about affordable housing the question is often affordable to whom? When lots in Bozeman are selling for nosebleed level prices, property in the county might be more attractive for a reasonable return on investment.

Plus, a mobile home park is a money maker year after year for the developer.

I think the city and county should bury the hatchet with their petty differences and put their heads together to see if a county modular home and/or mobile home park might be the easy win-win solution to the citizens of Bozeman who need affordable housing.

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